Mowers, take heed

I am in the market for a new mower. And I hate to spend money. That makes me an internet review junkie for several days prior to any significant purchase. Ever since I first used one I have been something of a fan of the reel mower. After my research I’m absolutely sold on them. Here’s why.

The first reason is the air pollution. This graphic illustrates it:

(Image from South Coast Air Quality Management District)

One gasoline mower produces as much pollution as 40–count ’em, 40–automobiles in the same time. That’s absolutely unacceptable. We’re talking carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxide, ozone, sulfer dioxide, hydrocarbons, and other miscellaneous nasties. On one day alone in a major metro this accounts for 1.4 tons of smog agents and 15 tons of CO. There are no pollution controls for mowers.

A second reason regards the pollution of the ground and simple waste. The EPA has stated that each year 17 million gallons of fuel is spilled by lawn and garden equipment users–more than that spilled by the Exxon Valdez. Granted, it’s not all localized as in the case of the Valdez, but it’s a lot of fuel.

The third reason is the noise pollution. Who hasn’t been awoken suddenly by an eager neighbor getting a jump on his Saturday morning? Gasoline mowers are loud. Period. The decibel level for the user is enough to cause hearing loss without proper ear protection. And the noise is annoying for other neighbors.

There are several alternatives to gasoline mowers. One may opt for a reel mower or an electric rotary mower. Both are cleaner and quieter than their gasoline-powered cousin. The reel mower has at least three major advantages over the electric.

First, it uses absolutely no power save that which is supplied by the operator, and is inexpensive to maintain. Reel mowers are generally light and easy to use. A good reel mower needs only to have the blades sharpened every year or two.

Second, a reel mower is better for the grass than a rotary mower. A rotary mower tears at the grass, leaving the grass tips exposed to brown over time. A reel mower snips the grass like scissors, making a clean cut and leaving the lawn greener and healthier. This is why reel mowers are exclusively used on golf courses (although they are generally larger tractor-towed models).

Thirdly, the reel mower is a natural mulcher. The grass clippings simply fall back to the lawn where they quickly decompose and fertilize the lawn, adding nitrogen and nutrients to the soil.

Give your gasoline mower the boot. Several States have implemented exchange programs where one may scrap their polluting gasoline mowers for cleaner varieties. Look into it. The overall benefits certainly outweigh the costs.


3 Responses to Mowers, take heed

  1. Styria says:

    I’ve been using a reel mower. The problem with it is that if you let the grass go too long (or, more especially, the tall seed-bearing stems of dandylions and grasses sprout up), the reel pushes them down against the ground rather than catching them and pulling them against the opposing blade. Then your grass is cut, but you still have all these tall things sticking up.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Imagine this: cutting your grass while talking on your cell phone! Or listening to your mp3 player without the sound on high. How about kicking a ball to your child while you push the mower! You could even cut the grass during a bar-b-que. But wait! THere’s more. If you live in a hot climate, you can get up early in the morning and cut the grass without ticking off the neighbors. You don’t need a gas can sitting in the garage waiting to be knocked over. OSC – you’re onto something.

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